July 28, 2015

Wyden Blocks Intelligence Authorization Bill Over Flawed Provision Targeting Social Media Platforms

Vaguely-Worded Provision Would Require Social Media Firms to Judge What is “Terrorist Activity” And Report it to the Government

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today placed a hold on the 2016 Intelligence Authorization bill over a flawed provision that would require companies like Twitter and Facebook to make judgments about when users’ speech constitutes “terrorist activity.”

The provision would require Internet and social media companies to report to the government any “terrorist activity” they are aware of on their platforms.  After hearing concerns from a number of companies, Wyden warned this provision could lead to companies taking drastic steps to police users’ speech online.

“There is no question that tracking terrorist activity and preventing online terrorist recruitment should be top priorities for law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said, in a statement for the record today. “But I haven’t yet heard any law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggest that this provision will actually help catch terrorists, and I take the concerns that have been raised about its breadth and vagueness seriously.”       

“Internet companies should not be subject to broad requirements to police the speech of their users,”Wyden continued.

The Internet Association, which represents dozens of leading technology companies, has objected to the breadth and vague language of the reporting provision.

Read Sen. Wyden’s full statement for the record here.